Wanderings & observations – urban & rural.

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Over the Border

I just returned from a brief trip across the border into Canada. We stayed in Vancouver, and explored in and around the city.

I wandered through the Museum of Anthropology UBC (University of British Columbia), the extensive UBC Botanical Gardens, and the Nitobe Memorial Garden, a fine traditional Japanese garden.  We spent a delightful afternoon watching ferries take passengers to Vancouver Island from Horseshoe Bay and clambering over the rocks Whtyecliff Park, for a beautiful view of the sound.  Yesterday I drove up the scenic Sea to Sky Highway towards Whistler, stopping at Shannon Falls and the little town of Squamish.  And the Airbnb where we stayed was right across the street from Sunset beach in downtown Vancouver, where the annual Celebration of Light fireworks provided a fabulous finale to the trip.

Needless to say, there are loads of photos and they’ll take time to get through. Here are just a few:

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British Columbia license plates say “Beautiful British Columbia” on them. So true, and we only scratched the surface. I can’t wait to go back!

 

1) A totem at the Museum of Anthropology, UBC

2) A traditional bell tower outside the Nitobe Memorial Garden on the UBC campus

3) Downtown Vancouver, shot from the car with my phone

4) Shannon Falls, on the Sea to Sky Highway outside Vancouver

5) The Horseshoe Bay marina

6) Howe Sound and Vancouver Island from the side of road on the Sea to Sky Highway

7) A lifeguard boat at Sunset Beach in Vancouver (yes, palm trees in Canada!)

The header (top photo above the title) is Whytecliff Park, northwest of Vancouver.

PALE POPPIES

 

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Lovely little California poppies,

humbly scattered through the grassy roadside

margins, splashing the green

with riveting bits of orange.

Gather them up and bring them home.

Be warned – very soon they will drop their petals,

but don’t clear the petals away.

Let them stay.

And keep watching.

Petals dropped, the seed pod, with its little disc,

lengthens out,

elongates, and dries.

What next?

(I’m sure you know).

SIGHT SPECIFIC

 

My mind-eye swirls and swivels, twists,

zeroes in,

rests

for a heartbeat or two, maybe a breath…

then it’s off again, connecting dots that

you may not have seen.

So here, just take a look,

(I would not ask you to follow).

Let your mouth corners turn up

or down,

brows arch or furrow,

in front of the

bright screen, in that far away place

where you are.

We’ve connected.

 

flowerpower

 

 

There’s so much delight,

in this summer-y

garden-y

time of year.

The photos were taken at Seattle’s Center for Urban Horticulture.

ALL OVER THE MAP…

These are recent images, and figuratively speaking, they’re all over the map.

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The first photograph was taken at Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. There’s a wonderful spaciousness there. I like the shapes and subtle colors in this image. From their website:

Padilla Bay is an estuary at the saltwater edge of the large delta of the Skagit River in the Salish Sea.

Because the bay is filled with sediment from the Skagit River, the bottom is very shallow, flat, and muddy. It is so shallow that almost the whole bay is intertidal. This means that it is flooded at high tide. When the tide goes out the whole bay empties out, exposing miles and miles of mud flats. This condition allows unusually large eelgrass meadows to grow. There are nearly 8,000 acres of eelgrass in Padilla Bay. 

Eelgrass is valuable because it is habitat for wildlife and commercially harvested animals. Eelgrass is used as a nursery by salmon, crab, perch, and herring. Eelgrass is also home for millions of worms, shrimp, clams, and other invertebrates that are food for great blue herons, eagles, otters, seals, as well as humans. This is why Padilla Bay was selected to be a National Estuarine Research Reserve.

When we were there this spring, we saw over 50 Great Blue Herons far out on the tidal flats. Without a zoom lens I couldn’t get an image, but it was wonderful to see so many at once.

 

The blinds are a morning view at home – I like the contrast between the striped blinds and the soft leaf shadows.

The stairs photo was taken with my cell phone, then processed with a cloud effect in OnOne Perfect Effects.  It’s a stairwell in an older Seattle building.

Then ferns and (I think) iris leaves intertwine in a garden, in a warm monochrome to show the contrast in textures.

The magenta colored flower is a common wildflower of the Pacific northwest, Fireweed, also called Rosebay willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium).  My camera got stuck in a very dark place!  It was on a setting that I couldn’t get out of for an hour or so, and I took pictures anyway, out of frustration.  I liked the way this turned out. It was actually full-on sunlight.

The last is of ornamental grasses blowing in a breeze at a botanical garden. I like the challenge of getting part in focus and part out of focus, by using shutter priority, trying different speeds, and focusing in different places.

THROUGH A NEW LENS: Blues & Grays

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A smart phone lens.

Had to buy a new phone, gotta play with it.

Sitting at home, peering out at the forest through blue glass,

in traffic in Seattle, looking up at a construction site, with and without equipment,

and casting about inside the car for something to photograph:

a blurred bump as I put my foot on the gas.

Between Worlds

Yesterday was a day of strange magic -

our day trip planned,

we headed south, but then directions led us awry -

we lost time.

Later we made a quick stop at the last store on the road.

Like the middle of nowhere, a strange feeling there -

I shoved my wallet in my right pocket,

and my phone in my left. I used the facilities, walked back to the car, and

one pocket was empty. No phone.

Just gone, as if by

magic…

I made a big effort to let go-

(no, I said to myself, it’s NOT my identity, not my tether to the world. There are

more substantial tethers: wonder, the veins of green leaves, pounding waterfalls).

Driving south on the winding mountain road, we notice

Search and Rescue trucks

parked on the shoulder.

We don’t see what happens a few hours later: her

body

brought down the

mountain:

old desolate, she called herself.

Her last hike:

was there wonder, and

magic in it?

The turquoise Ohanapecosh River churned

a mile or so south of her last steps, it

thundered over ancient rocks, carving circles in them.

Ancient cedars and firs towered there – burled with rings of

wonder, bark woven, tiny blue flowers at their feet.

And bright pink flowers bobbed in the breeze on a wall of rock

that plunged

into the water, the frothy

turquoise Ohanapecosh, its power

hemmed by rocks that I scrambled across quickly, oblivious to

her body’s slow descent

a mile or so away.  I pranced joyfully on the rocks, too close to the edge -

as I always do.

And her body was found and brought down

to the waiting vehicles we passed

on our way to see tree giants and foaming rivers.

 

Our worlds reflect each other like Indra’s net -

jewels that mirror, worlds that almost touch, slender threads…

Her words perch on my Flickr page,

written on the day she left for

this last hike. She wrote,

“You captured the vastness…”

under my photo of a field and fencepost.

Yes.

Vastness and

magic and yes,

she died, as they are saying today, doing-what-she-loved

on the mountain where

we wandered yesterday,

inside magic.

Karen Sykes, R.I.P.

Seattle Times article

Old desolate’s Flickr photos

 

In a Dry Place

We drive over Snoqualmie Pass,

then we motor down,

and down,

and down

to the wider view,

on the other side of the mountains.

 

The dry side.

 

We’re headed to Umtanum Creek Recreation Area,

a shrub-steppe habitat of dry hills, sage, and rattlesnakes.

Bighorn sheep are said to roam the craggy tops;

in the creek’s deep crease

willows flourish,

butterflies lilt,

and wildflowers cycle through bloom, seed, dormancy, and bloom again…

 

Umtanum Creek’s clear water feeds the wide Yakima River,

which in turn feeds the Columbia River,

which empties into the Pacific.

Today the water is cold but the sun is hot -

perfect for a raft trip down the Yakima.

 

But we’re interested in a dry place, so

we head across Yakima river

on a bridge

of creaky wood

and swaying steel.

The creek’s final course flows quietly

under a cool, shady thicket. We could follow it -

walk up the creek trail,

but…

 

 

Remember last year?  We walked up the creek and

after that we were curious about that hill, so

we trudged up

a steep path

but we were tired and

we didn’t get very far.

Why not do the hill path first this time?

Later we can cool our heels

in the creek.

 

It’s hot. Steep. Rock-strewn.

No one else is

on the trail.

We have 3 bottles of water,

little bags of nuts and raisins, a chocolate -

we’re already thirsty.

 

I drink in the open landscape, the

way rolling hills

are clothed in subtle shades of umber and gold,

olive and gray,

and the creek below

weaves a frothy emerald path

through the canyon.

I sense movement ahead on the rocks to my left.

- amazing -

a bighorn sheep!

I’ve never seen one before – didn’t expect to see one today.

Don’t you have to be miles from the road to see this kind of wildness?  Don’t you have to come at dawn, or dusk?

(Oh, would a long lens be good right about now!)

 

Just one ram,

and so nobly beautiful!

Surprise – instead of running away he makes eye contact. He poses on the rocks,

then climbs down closer.

I walk a few steps up the trail,

and he steps nimbly, almost aggressively,

towards us.

It’s lamb season, so we realize this may not be safe -

time to back off!

I force myself to step backwards on the trail,

not wanting to divert my gaze.

One last look -

can you see him there still?

King of the Hill…

 

It’s all good though.  He has his turf.

We had the privilege of meeting him,

in his world

for a few electric minutes.

 

 

Back down along the creek, a rattlesnake

slithers slowly away

through rock shadows  -

No matter I didn’t get a usable shot – I’m glad it’s gone.

Again I’m distracted by butterflies and wildflowers,

the curl of dry grass,

yarrow with its fair share of insect life,

tall grass ornamented with tiny yellow flowers,

wild roses

announcing their pinkness

amidst the green.

 

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Finally, the water up close:

feet cool off:

delicious!

 

 

Back on the road

heading down Yakima Canyon,

we glimpse strange basalt rock stacks painted

lichen red and yellow,

like primitive sculpture, or maybe an artist’s recent work

(how’s that for site-specific?).

And then more luck – we’ve gone from bighorn sheep and rattlesnakes

to a vintage ’51 Pontiac Chieftain,

looking very at home, even on the four lane!

We pull off so I can photograph the plain, graceful hills in late afternoon light.

A Western meadowlark sings somewhere out there – we can’t see it.

Telephone poles

and weathered fence posts

march crookedly up and down:

imaginary ideas of here

and there

and

who-owns-what

pasted on the hills.

We know there is no ownership.

I imagine the poles as dashes – pencil marks across

a manuscript

pale and dry as paper,

but ever changing.

Heading back towards home,

the Cascade Range appears in the distance

like a mirage.

Let’s stop at the top -

I want to breathe in the difference between

the dry place

and the fiercely steep, snowy place above,

the mountains with their towering trees and

spring flowers, still

blooming

as if it were April.

We stop briefly at Snoqualmie Pass,

walk to a smidgeon of the Pacific Crest Trail -

(hikers pass through here on their 2,650 mile trip from Mexico to California).

How’s that for inspiring?

Yes, trillium are still blooming here.

 

This is one of the reasons we left New York and moved out here two years ago -

truly wild land is more accessible to us now.

In the course of a day

we can drive from

June to April

and back to June again,

from wet to dry to wet again

from lush to arid to lush again!

Yes, how’s that for inspiration.

 

 

As May Slid into June…

More and more,

flowers bloomed…

 

 

 

 

 

In the garden’s hidden

corners,

alongside twisty pathways, or up

front and center

soaking in the sunlight, it’s all

just

stunning,

isn’t it, as May

slides

into June.

Photos taken at Bellevue Botanical Gardens, Bellevue, WA.

Disappear

around the corner, and

in a split

second,

everything will change.

Wonder -

disappear into it.

Lose

yourself.

This photo tells the story of a man about to disappear around the corner into a wilder place. More story-telling pictures are here, where every week photographers rise to a new challenge put on by The Daily Post at WordPress.

The photo was taken at Larabee State Park in Washington, about an hour north of Seattle.

 

 

 

 

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